Halloween is full of spooky haunts, delicious candy, but most of all, costumes. And at Polygon, we all have a favorite.
Whether it’s a childhood favorite, something put together for a college party, or the winner of an office Halloween reunion, there’s a Halloween look that’s stuck with us years after. With the holidays upon us, the staff at Polygon are sharing their favorite looks from Halloween past – spooky, sweet, silly and everything in between.
Monkey D.Luffy de A piece (2018)
Halloween is just an excuse for me to do poor quality cosplay. I have had a Halloween party every year since college, and try my best to have a good costume, even though the year seen above, I was in Korea for most of the month. ‘October and I rushed over to Michael’s (like, the craft store, not publisher Polygon’s house) to grab some fabric to throw together.
None of my friends except me are in A piece, but this costume slapped real hard. —Julia Lee
Veronica and JD from Bruyères (2016)
Bruyères was the second movie that my partner and I watched together, so it seemed appropriate that for our first Halloween together we were doing a couple costume (the first movie was A clockwork orange and… well, that doesn’t lend itself easily to a couple’s costume). I found some statement pieces for the outfits, did our “I just tried to murder a bunch of high school students” makeup, then went to a Kangaroo Express gas station and convenience store to buy a slip (there was no 7/11 fence). I really wanted to engage in #bit. In doing so, I panicked some of the attendants at the gas station, who didn’t know we were wearing makeup. Oops!
I also received a frantic text from my mom asking if I smoked REAL cigarettes in this photo and had to reassure her that I had just bought some fake ones, presumably for better use of the money. – Petrana Radulovic
Dice and Belle (~ 1993-1996)
I never really had a “good” Halloween costume as a teenager or adulthood, but my parents really rocked it when I was a kid. My best costume, easily, was a duet costume with my sister. We were dice. My parents made the costume out of cardboard, of course. It was huge and bulky and I don’t know how I sat at my desk in school.
Sadly, I don’t have a photo of that one, but I do have a photo of the costume I wore most years as a kid: Belle’s yellow dress. I asked my mom why I wore the same Halloween costume for four years in a row, and she said it was because I ended up with strep throat several Halloweens in a row – so I rarely had to do any tricks or treatments anyway. . Why have a new costume? – Nicole Carpenter
Generic Ghostbuster (1989)
This had to be the only time my parents bought a legitimate Halloween costume. Every second October I dressed like “a collection of objects from around the house smashed into the frame of a confused child.” A pile of paper towels and duct tape made a mummy out of me. Some oversized boxers and a stain of mascara around one eye equaled a bruised boxer. As a teenager, I covered myself with empty cereal boxes and ketchup. I was a grain killer.
But during that year my parents splurged and I lived my dream of being an honest to kind Ghostbuster ™. I was ecstatic. Not that you can tell from this picture. Can we take a moment to appreciate these shoes? –Chris Plante
Baby Bop the Barney (1995)
With a Barney film on the horizon, my time has come. Like most ’90s kids, I really liked Barney. This Barney toy I’m holding in this photo is actually from my aunt, who handed it to me at a store just to look at it, but I refused to let go, so she must have bought it for me. I was two years old and a girl, so naturally I wanted to be Baby Bop, the two year old girl from Triceratops Barney and his friends, for Halloween. I’m just saying, Mr. Daniel Kaluuya, if you choose Baby Bop… I’m available. —Emily Heller
I really love Halloween to the point that I make two costumes every year, whatever. It was the better costume of the two, and also the hottest with the temperature that night. The season of Killa Cam forever. –Josh Rios
Joaquin Phoenix de I’m Still Here (2011)
I don’t like to dress up for Halloween so my costume goal is always to find something that I can pull straight out of my closet and look decent when it ends up falling apart. This look actually took some work – to get a beard big enough to match the Phoenix burnt acting look of his secret, Donkey-like a fake documentary I’m still hereI had to fashion a second curly hair wig into facial hair. I also had a karaoke night wearing sunglasses. Devotion! (Note: I felt inspired by I’m still here long before director Casey Affleck was prosecuted for sexual harassment during the making of the film – if I had known at the time, I would have found a better way to walk Halloween parties incognito. But the success of looking like a giant ball of hair holds.) –Patchs mat
Le Game Boy original (1991)
When I was eight, the original Game Boy was all the rage. I thought it would make a stellar costume, and probably not too far reaching just to find a large cardboard box and draw buttons on it. My mom had a more creative ambition back then and decided to make a comeback Game Boy. She went through all of our old board games that were several pieces missing and glued / pinned all the boards onto a single long sleeve shirt that I then had to wear. There were probably around 12 game boards there. It was… bulky. And like all great Halloween costumes, no one got it and it required me to explain over and over what I was. Thanks Mom. —Russ Frushtick
Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)
In 1993, I had just moved to a new school in a new city. So to solidify my status as a huge con to a new group of fourth graders, I dressed up in a Sonic the Hedgehog costume from a mail order catalog. It was a simple jumpsuit with fabric spikes on the back and a fabric headdress with even more quills and cutouts for my eyes and lower half of my face. It sounded pretty much like the Sonic from the early ’90s cartoon, which I watched religiously every morning of the week before school. I was so hyped for this costume that I constantly wore it at home before, during, and after Halloween, and at my school’s Halloween carnival, even though I didn’t feel like any of my new classmates didn’t want to talk about its amazing Sonic the hedgehog 2 was. —Chelsea Stark
The Headless Horseman (1981)
My mother hated sewing. Asking for my Cub Scout badges sewn onto my uniform was a huge relief, and forgetting to put numbers on the Pittsburgh Steelers jersey I got for Christmas. Such things were often entrusted to a woman on the other side of town. But for Halloween 1981, mom turned into a sewing machine and gave me the best costume a little kid could hope for.
The headless horseman! Sleepy Hollow was one of my favorite childhood stories, but of course my costume ambitions were upset by the problem of making my head disappear. Mom, an intoxicating rider since her teenage years, was struck by a flash of inspiration. She disappeared into the bedroom with a sewing kit and an adult-sized black fox hunting jacket, promising she had it in mind.
When mum came out, she had assembled the jacket with fake arms and padding, so that it would go up above my shoulders, and I could see the neck, eyes hidden by the folds of a white scarf. . I wore a black handkerchief to cover the top of my head and held my hands on my knees, under the front of the jacket. Mum cradled a bucket of plastic jack-o-lantern candy under the fake arm, and with a pair of black riding breeches and matching boots, I was a perfect match for the undead Hessian looking for his noggin.
But wait, there is more! Horse! We kept two of them in an old stable behind our house. One would serve as a mount, and no lie, I was the headless horseman riding an honest to God horse for the Cub Scout Halloween costume contest at the Methodist Church just up our street.
I made a spectacular appearance – literally. When Mrs. Thomas, our Cub Scout Leader, introduced me, she led everyone out to the parking lot, where I posed menacingly on board a brown horse we called Pokey. I asked mom if she could get Pokey up for me. Mom hesitated and said I should scold a request for Ichabod Crane to show up. But I didn’t win. It was clear I had parental assistance (like, mom made all of my costume). We do not care. No 7-year-old gets such a big entrance, but mom gave it to me anyway.
For a ride or a treat later in the week I didn’t fly Pokey. My older brother walked with me because my vision was limited. Old Damon Chappell, a teenage troublemaker from another neighborhood, ambushed us with eggs by the Methodist Church. We ran, terrified, to the Myers, and knocked on the door until Clint’s older sister let us in. When I took off the costume, an egg fell, unexploded. He was stopped by the padding under the false arms. That’s how good mommy’s headless horseman costume was – it was even impervious to a Halloween egg. —Owen S. Bon